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Despite Amy Schumer being the big draw here – which is hardly surprising, as her sketch show Inside Amy Schumer (and more specifically, a handful of sketches from it that have been shared across the internet) have made her a massive star in a very short stretch of time. The important thing to keep in mind when watching Trainwreck is that this is a Judd Apatow film, and not just because he’s in the director’s seat: the whole approach here is textbook Apatow, and while this is easily his funniest film in a long while that’s not to say the flaws that sank Funny People and This is 40 aren’t still present.
Schumer plays Amy, a hard-drinking New Yorker who has no problem with sleeping around but a big problem with still being around in the morning. She’s funny and relatable but probably not what you’d call likeable, which is a problem because in a battle between funny and likeable in an Apatow movie increasingly likeable is going to win out.
Enter Bill Hader as the sport surgeon Amy is assigned to write a story on by her boss (a terracotta-tanned Tilda Swinton) – he’s serious about relationships and swiftly becomes serious about her, which she likes and fears in equal measure and then pretty much all the funny drains out of this film as it becomes all about whether she can overcome her fears and embrace a real relationship – which is great for her but not exactly something an audience might care all that much about.
Apatow has been about finding the laughter in real emotion all the way back to his days working on The Larry Sanders Show (a show that did it better than Apatow ever has), but increasingly the “real life” situations he’s drawn towards are bland ones involving the importance of maintaining a generic middle-class relationship in the face of personal issues like boredom and fear of intimacy. These things can be funny but Apatow’s not the guy to do it – it often feels like he’d make a better film if he gave up on going for jokes and just focused on relationships – and his fondness for traditional relationships blunts what’s really funny here: Schumer playing a woman who isn’t interested in any of that. This is a good introduction to her work and many of the early scenes (especially the ones featuring C-list action star and wrestler John Cena as her lunkhead quasi-boyfriend) are hilarious – it’s just clear that she can do better.